Open Letter to John Legere and Neville Ray of T-Mobile

Dear T-Mobile and its Representatives, via Neville Ray (current CTO) and John Legere (Current CEO),

As a newer customer (somewhere over 4 years), I would like some help in this particular matter. I am a HUGE fan of your company since the entrance of your current CEO John Legere. I am writing on the basis of a small complaint and a request, as a well as a hope for the near future merger (if approved, more on that in a minute) of Sprint and T-Mobile. I am writing on the growth pains that T-Mobile is experiencing and it is painful for those of us outside of major metropolitan cities. I currently live in Cleveland, TN and I am having an issue with your coverage and it’s current solution that you provide, among many for those of us in this predicament and I appreciate it, but it needs some re-thinking in my opinion.

I want to share that as I stated above, I am a HUGE fan (and promoter) of T-Mobile and for the first time since I left my mother’s plan, after being with At&t from the age of 18 through my early 30’s, you all provided me my first stand alone cell phone service, so I appreciate that! You can see just a few of tweets from years past here:

This is not to say, that I have not also had my complaints, as no company is perfect and we all know that. It’s part of competition and what makes the market grow and learn. Even though you charged me $150 more that At&t (and even $50 more than Samsung) was for the Galaxy Gear S3 Frontier (see tweet below)! I gladly accepted it and purchased it anyway and still wear my Gear S3 to this day.

I am coming to you now with an issue I have with the coverage in my area and the current solutions you have and the specific one that I chose. I have to point out first that I recently moved back to Cleveland, TN back in the summer of 2018 and have only been here for approximately 1 year and I am struggling to keep service here in my area of travel outside of my home. The area of Cleveland on the North side, doesn’t really have an issue, but the South side does and I hope that you can help!

I recently tweeted about this issue back in September of 2018 and ended up ordering the T-Mobile 4G LTE Personal Cell Spot that uses a small Nokia Femtocell micro tower in my house. The second version of this is what I received, since this was announced in November of 2017 and I did not set this device up until recently.

 

 

I want to explain my frustration in two areas, both your coverage vs actual coverage and the aspect of payment for this solution that you are providing for “cheap” or free in certain situations.

Coverage vs Actual Coverage

Your website is very misleading on the map’s coverage colors and how they blanket areas. I actually had sold a friend on T-Mobile and had him swap his entire business, some 13 lines over from Verizon a few years back. Unfortunately, due to your misleading maps, he got mad with me and swapped back and I believe ended up having to fight with a regional manager on getting all of it fixed.

So let’s start with my area of living in Cleveland, TN. I will show you the map that you guys provide to the public for my area:

tmobile04_tmobile

The map shows my address and even shows my verified tests that I have done. This is an average, due to the fact that I live at the top of the hill and can see for quite a few miles in most directions from our house, so this can be attributed to sea level of my house. The issue runs into the fact that when you get to the bottom of our hill, we lose signal almost immediately and I have to either travel North for a few miles before I start getting a signal and then I can start my Pandora stream (thanks for the 1 year of Premium, BTW!). You can even see in my tweet that I mentioned above, that if I travel Southward, that I lose signal for quite a few miles until I get into the Georgia area, after I cross the state line. This map makes it look like I should have Good to Fair coverage in my ENTIRE area, but this is very false.

I do understand that it takes time to grow a network, in purchasing, licensing and leasing fees to put your equipment on pre-owned towers that other companies have already put up. I even began to look deeper into the issue and see that you guys are most likely paying a leasing fee to Tillman Infrastructure for the nearest tower to me. So I wanted to look a little deeper into this and it looks like there are several customer facing websites that I can search for better understanding of the coverage issue. One of the first ones is CellMapper.net:

tmobile01_cellmappernet

So I see that there are towers North of me, but it looks like my area is just this weird area that T-Mobile does not cover for some reason. So I wanted to search other sites for more details and maybe confirmations. So I then looked into AntennaSearch.com, which is how I found out who built or owns the tower now, where you have the nearest tower to me:

tmobile01_antennasearch

You can see a confirmation that the towers available in my area are limited to the North side of town and for some reason, our little sliver is neglected by T-Mobile for some reason. Until, I got to my third site, CellReception.com and was able to understand why. Maybe, T-Mobile isn’t ignoring our area, but may be either being blocked by a competing company or may be planning to merge with this company and see if you can ‘fix’ the issue (hopefully) with a tower from Sprint. I will show you the confirmation map first, to show that there are definitely no towers “near” me from T-Mobile (I don’t know why they don’t show the others with this site) :

tmobile03_cellreption

And then, when I select Sprint as a provider, I see that there is a tower just behind my neighborhood, less than a mile:

tmobile03b_cellreption

This leads me to the fact that I hope, that this is the plan, that if (here’s hoping) the merger goes through, you can use that equipment already there or upgrade it and make my area better. I am just really frustrated with your coverage in my home area and dislike having to drive nearly 2 miles away from my house before I get a good signal and can start streaming my Pandora!

The Temporary Solution (I hope)

As I stated above, there are multiple options that your company provides, including an ASUS Wifi Router for Wifi Calling (not sure if you still provide this), a Cell Booster, that takes two smaller boxes and uses one as a repeater and one as a booster to repeat an outside signal back into the house (now looking back, I probably should have ordered this instead) and finally the LTE Personal CellSpot V2 that I currently have. Now, I do want to clarify, I have no clue how much each of these devices cost T-Mobile, but the customer is typically charged $25 for a deposit to receive these and can be refunded upon cancellation of service or return of the device. I have heard that you can get that fee waived, but in my case, they did not.

That being said, I am sure there is some cost of these devices as the initial cost of T-Mobile purchasing specially branded versions of this Nokia device (not actually Nokia, but a separate company that makes them and uses the Nokia branding). That aside, I find it odd that we as customers are not compensated for expanding your network in small cell areas of about 3,000 square feet. I have heard on some Reddit threads that it can be a few acres? (Wow if that is true!) I say that, to say, if we are “fixing” an issue with your equipment that you provide, we should be compensated a $5 or $10 discount on our monthly bills.

Here is my argument, as I have combed over many T-Mobile Support Forums and a Reddit Threads to read the complaints. Since T-Mobile does not provide any customer facing UI, GUI or CLI to be able to view or change anything with this femtocell, all T-Mobile (and I have read some At&t customers, I assume roaming) customers are allowed to use this tower, as if it were a macro tower. I understand that in both the macro and the micro towers, that it is the company equipment, but if you are using our internet connection to create it on the micro equipment, we should be compensated monthly.

We as customers are paying for our own “landline” cable, fiber or DSL internet and some of these companies still have data caps and these can be crashed through if there are neighbors or any T-Mobile customer coming through and using the micro tower. I have read some, not many, stories of since adding these femtocells into their network of them going over their data limits. This can be easily seen by jumping into Reddit or the T-Mobile Forums. So the overall thing is, that we are paying twice for internet, when it should have been provided without having to get your home solutions. In most rural areas, the cable and DSL providers do not have great speeds to provide to this CellSpot. I am a unique customer and have a 100Mbps connection behind it with no data caps, so I am a “unicorn”, I would think, but can understand other customer’s issues with this device.

I think that At&t provides a whitelist function on their Femtocells, so that only selected users can use it. Which leads me to the second issue, which is the fact that the data on this micro tower is STILL counted in our monthly counts. Why is that allowed? I understand it costs money to maintain a VPN tunnel between these devices and the T-Mobile network, but you again, are using our internet that we are being charged for. We should not be charged data counts in our monthly counts when it is STILL our own backhaul behind the microtower that is feeding the LTE signal created by the device. I believe that not only should we be be compensated a $5 or $10 monthly discount, but also given any data that we use on your microtower and not counted as “on-network” 4GLTE/4G/3G that you would provide if we were connected to a macro tower. It just seems very backwards and I think could be reworked.

I am thankful for your time and attention to this issue and hope that you will seriously consider my complaints and possible solutions. Please feel free contact me via my Twitter (@RustyG) if you would like to help!

-Rusty G

One of your biggest fans in the Southeast!

 

We’re really not the Largest 4G or the fastest… At All.

Ok, I really hate for next blog to be complaining about stupid things, but this is JUST PLAIN LYING. Let me give you a little background here. All of the 4 major cell phone providers have been trying to have a 4G war for the like the last 2 years. It’s the basics of a pissing match, or to see has the biggest junk, is what it all boils down to. Let me first say this, so that you know what TRUE 4G is. Right now in the 48 contiguous states of the United, there is only one true 4G product being used, and this is LTE. LTE stands for Long term evolution. I think At&t actually put it best in this video they have on their website.

Check it out below:

The ironic part of this video being done by At&t is the fact that they are actually telling the truth in this one. ONCE and only ONCE. One more background on the 4G wars. When this whole thing started, At&t was standing it’s ground and keeping with the 3G moniker and saying that everything was still 3G, until January 2011, when out of the blue, someone kicked the CEO and said, hey, we are falling behind in the 4G wars, we need to fix this. So they just started saying they had 4G, and there were no network improvements, no back haul changes or any sort of upgrades. It was if it was magic, and someone had flipped the switch and all of sudden, we were 4G! WHEW! Well what does that mean? Nothing really, because at the time, they didn’t even have HSPA+, which T-Mobile at the time was touting they had for their “4G” devices(which by the way, isn’t really 4G either). At&t was sticking with HSPA (no plus), which is a 3G technology. You can see this right now on their website: http://www.att.com/network/?. Go to the technology tab, and you will see HSPA marked at 3G. HA, so this is where At&t started telling their little white lie. Then, came along HSPA+ and we continued to call it 4G, because At&t figured, well we started with a little white lie, lets keep it going. (Thanks to the marketing department) The funny thing is, looking back, NOW At&t calls HSPA 3G as it really is now, when they were calling it “4G” when it was around.
4G

Enough of At&t, let’s talk about the quiet company Verizon. This company had recently acquired the 700MHz spectrum from the government. Which was soon to be the now 4G LTE that they are selling. Verizon really never had a horse in the 4G race to begin with, they were sticking to their guns with 3G CDMA/EV-DO. They never really had any 4G marketing going on, while Sprint(which is another story), T-Mobile and At&t were all spatting it out. Then out of the clear blue, Verizon had setup their towers in the background and BOOM! Phones like the Thunderbolt, Rezound, Droid 4 (all android based) started popping up with LTE! TRUE 4G! All the while, At&t, T-Mobile and Sprint were falling behind in the race, the REAL 4G race, LTE.
At&t to this day is still touting HSPA+, as well is T-mobile, as “4G” and this is just a LIE. At&t does have LTE service in select cities, as of this writing, and select LTE devices, but NO WHERE near the footprint that Verizon has, because they won the 700MHz auction BACK in 2008!!

This all leads me to the reason why I am writing this article. I was watching free OTA tv this evening and this commercial came on:

 

It really bugged me, in this frame here:

2000 cities?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let me say this, this is a flat out blatant LIE. At&t is using “marketing terms”, as it has been dubbed, to be able to say this. Since At&t has been lying since January of 2011, they can continue their charade of saying they have “the most” “4G”. If you subtract the 3.5G HSPA+, which you should, Verizon wins. At&t has under 50 cities that carry the LTE technology, and Verizon has (currently) 230 cities. So SHUT UP At&t.

 

Next on the chopping block: T-Mobile. Why is that you say? Well, T-Mobile has been touting their HSPA+ as “4G” as well. So why are they saying they are the fastest? Well let’s see, marketing has re-branded their wonderful and beautiful Carly Foulkes as no more Mr. Nice Guy and put her in all black and pink leather. I love their idea as to where they were going with this, IF, they had actually had some LTE to launch, but they don’t and they won’t. At&t tried buying them out last year for a record $39 billion dollars, but with millions of people like me, who voted against it, it never happened, and T-Mobile didn’t have LTE on the road map. They basically went on cruise control and thought the At&t buy out was going to happen and they didn’t need to worry about it, because At&t would have to deal with that problem. WHOOPS, we made a mistake! So now sits T-Mobile without any LTE plans, but they need to look like they are still a viable “4G” option. Look, I will say, if you are looking for just voice services and you aren’t worried about data or smartphones, then heck, go with T-Mobile, but they will not satisfy the data hungry smartphones that are coming to market, so keep that in mind. Until T-Mobile comes back with a LTE plan or something else that is true 4G, they have to sit this one out.

Here is my complaint, the commercial that I briefly mentioned above. Here it is:

 

The same thing goes here. The motorcycle is to entice that need for speed feeling and the fact that you want to be the fastest. Well when you put a snail next to a tortoise, then next to a rabbit, this is pretty much what REALLY is happening. Tmo and At&t are the two slower, while Verizon is cleaning house with LTE. Here is the frame I am having trouble with, the same claim that At&t has:

T-Mobile

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now how can At&t and T-Mobile both have the largest? Well, let’s see, if you are going to include a 3G and parade it around as “4G”, then maybe, but let’s count how many LTE devices or cities that Tmo has. Oh wait, I can’t seem to find any. Know why? There is no such thing on T-Mobile. So what about this test drive site that T-mobile is showing, they show it IS faster! That is PROOF (right?).

Not really. Let’s go over these test drive pages they have setup.

#1) Sprint v. Tmobile.

What’s the problem here? Oh that’s an iPhone 4S (or 4, it doesn’t really matter here) and Samsung Galaxy S II. Lets go. STOP. You cannot race a 3G device against a supposed “4G” device. Sprint isn’t even on the same spectrum that T-Mobile is. HSPA+ is going to be faster than Sprint’s 3G (EVDO??? – fact check me someone) network, #DUH. Also if you look at the screens, the Galaxy says 4G and the iPhone says 3G.  SCRATCH. MISTRIAL. WHATEVER you want to call it.

#2) At&t v. T-Mobile

Is that another iPhone 4S? Wow, this is a little more close,a  fake “4G” device against a fake “4G” device. (Apple actually wanted to stick with keeping the 3G moniker at the top, but At&t made them change it in the iOS 5.1 update. Read more about that here.) The problem here is, At&t and T-mobile don’t run the same spectrum for their fake 4G networks. This is why if you take an unlocked iPhone to T-Mobile, it will never get on their 3G network and you are stuck on EDGE. It’s really horrible for people that leave At&t with an unlocked device, it is suppose to be compatible at that point, but it really isnt. SO, we really have to scratch this race too.

#3) Verizon v. T-Mobile

UMM.. is that an iPhone 4S again??? (I am really beginning to think that T-Mobile is just really jealous, that it is the last major carrier that does NOT have the iPhone.) Same thing as #1 here. Verizon’s iPhone 4S, in still running on a CDMA/EV-DO 3G network. So again.. NO Comparison.

This really just ticks me off to no end, that both companies are really lying flat out, just because they know they are losing the 4G race, and now they are just making outlandish claims and throwing stupid punches. At&t, T-Mobile, Please stop. You are confusing the average Joe, who doesn’t do their research like I do. It is people like me that have to call you out on it, and you need to be corrected.

 

-Rusty G

 

UPDATE:I just saw this BS… wow T-Mobile is still straight up lying…

 

UPDATE: I even liked reading this article on Digital Trends calling “4G” a meaningless term!

Sprint to sell the Overdrive 4G router on January 10th

01-06-10overdrive

With Sprint announcing the Overdrive 4G router, it seems to be the coolest little handheld router out there. This thing runs on the only live 4G network in the U.S. and will be ready to purchase in the BestBuy stores on January 10th! This thing touts being able to stream your favorite video services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon; turn your wifi only phone into a Skype phone, or stream Pandora to your devices on the go. It’s pretty much ousted the MiFi and still allows up to 5 devices to connect to it’s wifi spot.

via [Engadget] via [BusinessWire]